Hiking is a great way to reconnect with nature, but if you’re caught unprepared it can be a nightmare. While what equipment is needed can vary depending on the length of the hike, the weather and the terrain, there are some supplies you should always carry. Don’t let nature crush you underfoot and make sure you pack these hiking essentials!
Essential Hiking Supplies
It’s important to have a durable backpack that is comfortable over long hiking excursions. The size of a backpack depends on how long you plan on hiking. If you’re hiking for a day or two, a backpack that is 10-25 liters will suffice, but for longer extrusions, packs between 20 and 30 liters are ideal for holding more supplies. Make sure your pack is lightweight so you don’t tire from wearing it and look for waterproof and shatterproof materials to protect the supplies inside! Good backpacks can be expensive, but there are options for hikers on a budget.
With temperatures varying throughout the day, it is important to wear the right clothes. No matter the season, you should wear long sleeves and long pants (or shorts and high socks) to cover your bare skin and protect you from harmful plants and insects. Wearing light materials can make ticks and other harmful insects easier to spot. A hat is also good to wear to protect your head too.
In warmer months, wear breathable socks and underwear so you won’t get overheated and light shirts and pants. Be sure to pack an extra jacket or two if you’re hiking during colder months.
While flies and gnats are annoying, insects like ticks and brown recluses can pose a serious risk to your health if they bite.
Hiking wet in the rain is no fun, so be sure to grab a raincoat in case you get stuck in a surprise shower.
Hiking beneath trees is not always sufficient in protecting you from the sun, so bringing a small bottle of sunscreen is a smart option.
Even if you want to escape civilization, bringing a fully charged phone along is a good idea in case you get lost or need help.
Whether you’re hiking for the day or for weeks, be sure to bring food that is both nutritious and nonperishable. Granola bars, energy bars, trail mix, nuts, and dried beef jerky will keep you full and not spoil on the trail. Apples, oranges, and other fruit that does not need to be refrigerated are great options too.
For longer extrusions, cereal, individual packets of mustard and ketchup, pasta, and pancake mix can spice up your diet while on the trail. Just make sure water supply is not an issue before bringing recipes that require it.
Also consider bringing utensils like forks, spoons, and knives along with plates, sanitation wipes, and napkins. In case there are no trash cans nearby, bring a sealable plastic bag to hold your wrappers, plastic, and other trash until you can properly dispose of it. Littering is never okay!
It’s important to stay hydrated on your hiking trip. Water, tea, juice, or other liquids that replenish electrolytes are all great options! For long extrusions, consider purchasing a water filter so you can replenish your supply in a local stream or lake.
Having toilet paper, hand sanitizer and hand wipes on hand can help you stay clean during your hike.
Having a compass and map of the area are essential to knowing your location and helping you find your way if disoriented. Not all compasses are created equal, so make sure yours can get you where you need to go!
First Aid Kit
If you find yourself with a scraped knee or have a run-in with poison ivy, you’ll be glad to have a first aid kit on hand.
Having self-identification on hand can help you be identified in a worst-case scenario. A plastic ID like a card or driver’s license can also scrape ticks and bee stingers off your skin.
Worst case scenario Supplies
If you are hiking miles from civilization, bringing along matches, a lighter, a knife, and an emergency shelter are wise investments. An emergency whistle is also a lightweight addition to your supplies.
Make sure you pack these essential supplies to keep you safe and ensure your hike is free from inconveniences!
Written by Charlene Pepiot